8/5/2013 7:47 P.M. ET
White Sox laud MLB's stringent drug testing policy
Players, front office react to suspensions handed down to A-Rod, others
By Scott Merkin / MLB.com
CHICAGO -- With the White Sox coming off of an 0-7 road trip to Cleveland and Detroit, Monday's 13 suspensions handed down by Major League Baseball for violations of the Joint Drug Prevention and Treatment Program in relation to the Biogenesis investigation didn't consume the players' every thoughts.
White Sox general manager Rick Hahn pretty much passed on any pregame topics not related to his own team, including the suspension of Alex Rodriguez for the rest of the 2013 season and the entire 2014 season and his ensuing appeal allowing him to play in Monday's series opener.
"You've seen this team play recently," Hahn said. "I've got 99 problems and A-Rod ain't one of them."
"It is what it is," White Sox second baseman Gordon Beckham said. "All of us just want to go out there and play. I don't think all of this should affect us one way or the other."
MLB on Monday suspended 13 players as a result of the league's Biogenesis investigation. Rodriguez received the stiffest penalty -- a 211-game ban without pay through the end of the 2014 regular season. Rodriguez, 38, has appealed the suspension, which is to begin Thursday.
His case will be heard by arbitrator Fredric Horowitz. Rodriguez's discipline, MLB said in its written announcement, is based on his use and possession of numerous forms of prohibited performance-enhancing substances, including testosterone and human growth hormone, over the course of multiple years. Rodriguez's discipline under the basic agreement is for attempting to cover up his violations of the program by engaging in a course of conduct intended to "obstruct and frustrate" the investigation.
The other players who were handed 50-game suspensions include Rangers outfielder Nelson Cruz, Tigers shortstop Jhonny Peralta, Mariners catcher Jesus Montero, Padres shortstop Everth Cabrera, Yankees catcher Francisco Cervelli, Phillies reliever Antonio Bastardo and recently demoted Mets utilityman Jordany Valdespin. Minor Leaguers Fernando Martinez, Jordan Norberto, one-time White Sox farmhand Fautino de los Santos, Cesar Puello and Sergio Escalona were also suspended.
Most of the inquiries thrown at the White Sox players, manager Robin Ventura and Hahn centered on Rodriguez, who was scheduled to hit fourth in a return to big league action. But the responses quickly changed the focus to how these suspensions prove the stringent MLB testing policy in place truly works.
"You'll look back and these are all little pieces that [mean] it will always get better," White Sox captain Paul Konerko said. "Talking about the drug testing stuff, it will always get better. This is the evolution of it, the progression of it. It doesn't happen overnight when you're dealing with a huge operation. Really it's a short amount of time when you talk about six, seven years of implementing something and having it being perfect. These things take time, and years from now, it will all make sense. It's all good in that it's moving in the right direction."
"It's showing one of those things where eventually Major League Baseball is going to catch guys who are doing things," Ventura said. "It's unfortunate, but it's been a part of the game for a while and they're just doing a better job now of finding ways to catch guys."
Blame can be shared for White Sox woes
CHICAGO -- White Sox general manager Rick Hahn and manager Robin Ventura played the blame game before Monday's contest with the Yankees in connection with the team's dismal 40-69 record. The first finger they pointed was aimed directly back at themselves.
"It's all my fault," said Ventura in a forceful tone, with a bit of sarcasm but more than a bit of honesty. "It is. I'm the manager, so I have to take the responsibility."
"I don't put this on any individual coach or the coaching staff as a whole or myself or the people in the front office," Hahn said. "I put it on all of us, players included. The performance has not been at an acceptable level. We as a group collectively are to blame for this."
Hahn listed off the main source of problems for the White Sox, from an offense that ranks last in the American League in runs scored to major defensive miscues and lackluster fundamental play overall, including bad baserunning.
The club's GM spoke of decision-making and the process to get to that decision ultimately being more important than results, using hitting coach Jeff Manto as an example, in that he's putting in more than the requisite work and communicating with his players, even if the statistics are far from desirable.
But Hahn also expressed almost astonishment in his starting pitchers lowering their collective ERA over this 10-game skid, featuring a 2.88 ERA with eight quality starts.
"It's extremely frustrating for everyone associated with it and especially our pitchers," Hahn said. "There's a fair amount of issues that came to a head during this 10-game skid which hopefully ends tonight and stuff that will have to be addressed in the not too distant future."
Hahn in getting-to-know period with Garcia
CHICAGO -- Avisail Garcia has just 13 walks in 185 plate appearances this season between stops at Lakeland, Toledo and currently Triple-A Charlotte. But White Sox general manager Rick Hahn prefers people look at what the team's newest acquisition is able to do, as opposed to his less than polished skills.
"If he is able to hit at the level we think he's able to hit at, hit for the power we feel he's able to do, play defense and run, he's going to be doing a lot of things on a daily basis to help you win, even if the walk numbers aren't quite as high," said Hahn of Garcia, acquired at the non-waiver Trade Deadline in the deal that sent Jake Peavy to Boston. "Looking at the entirety of the player, regardless of what is happening with plate discipline, we think we have a pretty valuable guy on our hands going forward.
"I will say it is something that he is aware of. It is part of the finishing touches of his development. And it's something that he is going to improve over the course of his career in the coming months and here in Chicago."
Garcia, 22, will be in Chicago at some point this season, per Hahn, but when he arrives, the White Sox want him to have every day at-bats. As for the 6-foot-4, 240-pounder playing center field, it could end up being a premium offensive player in what usually is considered a premium defensive position.
"Traditionally, center field is not a premium offensive position," Hahn said. "You put a premium offensive player at a premium defensive position, it puts you in a pretty good spot for a club going forward.
"We are not married to the idea of him playing center. We wanted to take a look at it, get to know the kid a little bit better. He's extremely athletic, he has a world of tools and we want to give him the opportunity to play it out again at the premium position, even if he ultimately does wind up at a corner here in Chicago."
Waiver deals possible for White Sox
CHICAGO -- Waiver wire deals involving the White Sox during August certainly remain possible. But they won't be based on bringing down payroll, according to general manager Rick Hahn.
"If everything rolls the right way, we won't hesitate to do something," Hahn said. "It's a matter of aligning of not just with the talent and the economics, but making sure it's the right fit for us going forward.
"There's no pressure to do anything from an economic standpoint or just for the sake of let's mix things up. We are going to do it to make sense for the organization for the long term."
Third to first
• Alejandro De Aza was originally out of Monday's starting lineup against the Yankees, but only to give him a rest against southpaw Andy Pettitte. The move had nothing to do with De Aza's inability to tag up and try to score on Alex Rios' line drive to center during the eighth inning of Sunday's loss to the Tigers.
De Aza was going on first contact on that play and didn't have a chance to get back to third. It has been a rough year for the center fielder on the basepaths, leaving De Aza without an explanation for the 18 times he's been thrown out, including six pickoffs and four caught stealing, per baseball-reference.com.
"Yeah, it don't look good," De Aza said. "It don't feel good, because of the situation we are in. Every run is important. But like I said, it's the game."
• Daniel Webb has thrown 10 2/3 consecutive scoreless innings over his last seven appearances for Triple-A Charlotte. Infielder Tyler Shryock owns a 16-game hitting streak for Advanced Rookie Great Falls.
• The White Sox are 14-25 in one-run games and 5-12 in extra innings.